Left fielder Jonathan Ducoff hit a walk-off single RBI in the bottom of the tenth inning for No. 6 Texas A&M to knock off No. 11 Florida Tuesday in the first round of the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama.
A&M starting left-handed pitcher Asa Lacy began strong in his return to the mound following a four-game suspension, throwing five strikeouts in the first two innings of the game.
After retiring the batters in order to begin the third, the Aggies landed on the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly from catcher Hunter Coleman, allowing his brother, third baseman Ty Coleman to cross home plate.
Catcher Mikey Hoehner made a scoring play immediately after Coleman when he hit a single RBI to center field.
After the run, right fielder Zach DeLoach advanced to third off a wild pitch. Florida catcher Brady Smith overthrew to third baseman Cory Acton in an attempt to get an out. With the baseball flying down the left field line, DeLoach ran in for the third score of the day.
Lacy’s streak of retiring batters in order came to a close in the fifth inning when he found himself in a jam with two outs. With the sophomore lefty approaching one-hundred pitches, Florida leadoff hitter Brady McConnell hit a double RBI single into left field, cutting A&M’s lead to one.
The Gators wouldn’t stop in the fifth. After a hit and a pair of walks, Lacy found himself in another bases loaded situation, prompting A&M head coach Rob Childress to turn to the bullpen for right-handed pitcher Bryce Miller.
However, Miller went on to walk second baseman Jacob Young, allowing Florida to tie the game.
The eighth inning saw six runs scored between both teams, with Florida striking in a pair of runs after right fielder Will Dalton hit a RBI triple down the right field line. First baseman Kendrick Calilao batted in a run as well after a single allowed Dalton to touch home plate.
A&M took the lead back quickly with the help of a three-run homer by Ducoff to take the two-run lead going into the ninth.
Childress then put closer Kasey Kalich on the mound in the ninth, but ran into trouble after left fielder Austin Langworthy hit a RBI triple and designated hitter Nelson Maldonado hit a RBI single to tie the game up 7-7.
After A&M couldn’t answer with a run in the back-half of the ninth, the game headed to extra innings.
“I was looking for a pitch up,” Maldonado said. “[Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan] said, ‘runner on third, he’s gonna go no matter what’. Just had to put it in play and hit it hard.”
After Kalich retired the batters in order, Ducoff clinched the game with a walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth, eliminating Florida from the SEC tournament.
“There’s no doubt about it, this was probably the most special moment of my career,” Ducoff said about his single. “I think that from what I’ve been through for the last year-and-a-half I never would’ve thought that this is where I’d be.”
O’Sullivan made it clear after the game that for an No. 11-seed and a No.6-seed to go extra innings, the SEC is one of the toughest conferences in the country.
“We’re coming in here the No. 11-seed, and we’re facing arguably one of the best lefty’s in the country,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve got a very young team that continuing to improve, there’s obviously a lot of depth. There’s a lot of talk about other leagues and that type of thing, but I think it’s pretty obvious that our league is deeper than any league.”
The Aggies will face the No. 3-seed Georgia Bulldogs in the second round of the SEC tournament at the Hoover Met on Wednesday. The double elimination round will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be televised on SEC Network.